Town Issues Stop Work Order: Defining the Line

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Last Thursday afternoon, Director of Community Development Kara Stewart issued a Stop Work Order for construction at 3050/3056 Estero Blvd via an email to contractor Joe Orlandini.

Despite the concurrence of DEP Engineering Specialist Tim Besse, Lee County Plan Reviewer Randy Simes and Orlandini’s surveyor Phillip Mould of Harris-Jorgenson, that the new construction does sit landward or the Coastal Construction Setback Line, Stewart issued the order citing a discrepancy regarding the location of the CCCL.

“Based upon this new information, the Town questions whether the building under construction is property located landward of the CCCL,” the email reads. “Until this issue is satisfactorily resolved, the permit will remain under a stop work order.“

The ‘new information’ was a survey done on neighboring properties indicating the CCCL line is 6-8 feet further landward than Mould’s survey puts it. When first informed of this in early May, Orlandini and Mould sought and received confirmation from Lee County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the keeper of the CCCL that their survey was accurate. When this information was presented to the Town, Stewart insisted that the DEP consider a 2004 survey done on a neighboring lot and questioned the placement and usage of survey markers.

And that is where this sits at press time. Neither side doubts the accuracy of its survey. Stewart told us that it’s up to the DEP now.

“Right now, the DEP has all the information and we’re waiting to hear back from them,” she said. “Then we’ll know what our next step will be.”

For our story last week, Town Manager Don Stilwell told us that the issue of which survey was right seemed to have been settled by the DEP, which said the new construction survey was accurate and the older conflicting surveys seem to have been done using the wrong marker.

Meanwhile construction has stopped on the two condo homes and the contractor is losing money. Orlandini explains that those two homes were just the beginning of a development planned for the Junkanoo property.

“We were in the process of moving forward on our next two homes on the lot closer to Junkanoo. Now that has to be put on hold also.”

Orlandini talked about the process of building a beachfront home and the surveys required.

“The DEP requires a survey, a very detailed survey, that shows the CCCL and every elevation on the property as it is before construction and what it will be after construction. The Town requires the DEP permit before they will issue a building permit, so they also get the DEP survey. The Town actually requires a site plan and only requires an as-built survey for location certification.”

Stewart acknowledges receiving that survey for the 3050 Estero property, but suspects they drew the CCCL line in the wrong place.

About a year and a half ago, the Local Planning Agency took a close look at the Town’s lack of survey requirements. Currently the Town requires only a site plan, a much less detailed sketch, for a single-family home. Concerned about the Town’s many small lots and the growing concern about setbacks and construction, the LPA passed LPA Resolution 2014-016 on November 14, 2014 calling for boundary, foundation and as-built surveys for new construction and some renovation projects.

The Permitting Survey Requirements resolution appears to have died after the LPA passed it. Town Council hasn’t acted on it and doesn’t appear to have ever considered it.

Meanwhile construction has stopped on a valuable piece of land and all sides await an answer from the DEP.

Missy Layfield